By Abby Locke
I remember early in my own MBA career, I consistently brought a high-level of energy, enthusiasm and drive to every project that I took on. It was never too long before I gained the reputation as an entrusted source of information, creativity and new ideas among my colleagues and my direct boss. However, the “party” and “fanfare” always seemed to go south when it came time for my annual performance review and associated raises and promotions.
I would walk away from those review meetings feeling discouraged and disappointed because I felt like I was not being appreciated or rewarded for my efforts. It would only be a matter of time before I would lose interest in my work and been to seek greener pastures in another company.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Are you going into performance review meetings with low expectations? As professional women, we often face an internal struggle that we bring upon ourselves – we feel bound by an unspoken oath to not openly talk about our achievements or contributions, but secretly expect to get promotions and gain visibility. Wrong strategy!
I remember getting to a point in my MBA career when I realized that being silent and hoping for the best was simply not going to work anymore. I challenged myself to move beyond my comfort zone and started to proactively market myself within the company and became very diligent about chronicling my career achievements and project updates. Then, something miraculous started to happen – within the first year on the job, I achieved the following:
-- I was repeatedly sought to serve as company representative for local and community-related events.
-- I was selected by the president to spearhead a high-profile, but complex project.
-- I received the highest percentage raise among my peers and recommended for promotion to next level in my career path.
What changed? I took full control of my career success instead of leaving it up to my boss. Here are a few lessons that you can take from my story.
-- Keep good notes on your ongoing projects and special assignments and summarize the outcomes in the Challenge-Action-Results formula – this strategy will benefit you tremendously in your self-assessments.
-- Establish rapport and maintain open communication with your project leader and boss – many of the opportunities I got for external projects or volunteer activities came about through casual conversation.
-- Actively solicit and encourage feedback and advice from boss and colleagues – my willingness to learn and improve my skills was readily rewarded with company-paid training courses and programs.
-- Speak up about inequities (real or perceived) in a logical manner and use real facts, not heresy, to support your concerns – I always got a listening ear from my boss because I had strong facts and quantifiable examples to demonstrate my point.
Every company and work environment will have its challenges, and you cannot leave your career success in someone else’s hands. Take a more proactive role in your professional development, and start documenting your successes and highlights now.